For over two decades Cargraphic has supplied its own British-made exhaust systems and other Porsche tuning equipment. We paid a visit to their Landau headquarters and drove three of their cars in the beautiful Pfalz countryside
Dropping in on German tuning specialist, Cargraphic
Sooner or later you’ll need to replace your exhaust system. Or you’ll be seduced by the notion of upgrading for the sake of performance increase, or merely making more noise. Chances are, as you surf the net for suppliers, you’ll hit on Cargraphic. Based in Landau, a historic town in the heart of the southwest German wine-growing Pfalz region, the firm has been marketing Porsche exhausts for over 20 years, since patron Thomas Schnarr went into partnership with Simon Young, who manufactures Cargraphic’s own manifolds, catalytic converters, silencers (with or without integrated flaps), and Active Sound exhausts for diesel engines at his Cullompton factory in Devon, GB.
Cargraphic’s aftermarket Porsche accessories catalogue also features performance components such as its own three-piece wheels and Airlift kit – a frontaxle lift system for cars with lowered suspension and limited ground clearance – as applied to my colleague’s 996 GT3 but, alas, not my slammed 996 C2.
One of the most positive characters you could hope to meet, Thomas Schnarr is constantly upbeat: ‘Our best business at the moment is with the 981 Boxster and Cayman engine, particularly the 981 GT4; we must have sold 250 manifold sets already, and there’s a race series that we have built a special exhaust system for which they all have to run, so this is really good business.’ He tells us that the Cayman GT4 manifold also fits the regular Cayman, so that’s beneficial. ‘There are three models in that bracket,’ he continues: ‘the normal Cayman and Boxster, which run a smaller diameter 45mm manifold because of the engine capacity and a combination of power and torque; and then we have the GT4 and the Spyder which have the 3.8, and they are on a 51mm primary pipe size; and also we have the race header for the race track or the Club Sport cars, and that is a long, primary race header which Simon developed on a car.’
The exhaust side of the business represents around three-quarters of the firm’s turnover, and more recently the new Active Sound System has become Cargraphic’s second most popular product line. Next up comes the company’s own series of road wheels, available in six different styles – including Motorsport splitrims which we observe being assembled at Landau – and, last but not least, performance upgrade components such as throttle bodies, intake plenums and lightweight flywheels.
Over in the Cullompton factory, 32 skilled craftsmen hand-build a variety of Cargraphic exhaust systems for the entire Porsche range. It’s a cavern of alcoves, inner recesses lit by flashing welding torches, accompanied by a diverse soundtrack of clanking pipes, fizzing welders, machine tools, lathes, polishers and pop music, decorated by girlie calendars and intersected by shelves overflowing with segments of exhaust systems. In adjoining workshops sheet stainless steel is cut and curved and filled with a baffling variety of sound absorption materials prior to mating up with associated cats and pipework. ‘All our silencers are assembled in the same way, wrapping two or three layers of stainless steel wire-wool around the baffle, plus a layer of needle mat which is glassfibre blanket around the inside of the insulator case, and then we fill the void with glass robing, which is like glassfibre in a continuous filament so it doesn’t break down. This is then pushed into the silencer under pressure, and these machines will squash the case to the right shape for the baffle so the internals retain the shape.’
All parts are test-fitted, dyno-tested and TÜV approved in Germany. ‘We have a prototype system or a component part made in England, then we get type approval; we receive an order and the finished article is produced and despatched. Our business is divided 80 per cent through dealers and 20 per cent private orders. We are constantly expanding, and we have a lot of growth potential in new markets like South America, South Africa and India, and we’re doing a lot in Australia and New Zealand now. China has declined a little bit, but India and Malaysia are doing very well. India is a very big growth market, because they have loads of Cayennes and SUVS, if not sports cars.’
Cargraphic has a register of agents worldwide, including Parr Motorsport in the UK, and runs the mail-order operation from its Landau premises. The despatch department where orders are boxed up is in the main building with a staff of 12. The way dealers order items and components has altered radically: ‘Whereas before we had dealers in America who bought containers full of stuff and kept a stock of it, this is no longer the case; they buy items as and when they need them, and that’s because distribution systems like UPS and Fedex mean we have competitive freight rates, so we can send, for instance, a 997 Turbo system today to the East Coast of the USA overnight for about 150 euros, and because everything goes via Memphis, Tennessee it takes another day to reach the West Coast, but it would be there within two days for 175 euros. Then the dealers despatch to the customers.’
Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the Landau area, Cargraphic has a spotless workshop run by three technicians, with three hoists and state-of-the-art equipment to carry out virtually any task on your Porsche. By way of demonstrating the Cargraphic range, Thomas has three cars for us to try, each featuring very different Cargraphic apparatus. First up is a Macan diesel; not especially dear to Porsche aficionados, maybe, but nevertheless an extremely capable vehicle. A diesel, did I say? Well, when the techie fires it up I’m transported to the US-OF-A, because this sounds like nothing other than a big-block American V8 petrol guzzler. The question is, not so much ‘why,’ as ‘how?’ Up on the hoist Thomas points out a pair of bulbous speakers mounted just before the tail pipes, which are programmed to emit a petrol V8 rumble, which you can modulate to high- or low-pitch V8 via a smartphone app. But that’s the exception. As Thomas says, ‘we try to make our systems fit with OE parts, whereas other makes won’t do, and in some cases you can’t just replace the tail pipes or rear box because their systems won’t match with the existing parts. Design-wise, with the Cargraphic products, we always try to maximise flow, maximise power but still keeping it within a respectable – and legal – sound level. Because of the constraints with TÜV in Germany we can’t have a system that’s absolutely unfettered, so there has to be a compromise between the level of sound and the performance that can be gained, but our systems do tend to be more driveable and more user friendly as a result. You don’t have that horrible droning in the
We try to make our systems fit with OE parts, where other makes don’t
back of your head over long distances.’ How they gauge whether a particular configuration of silencer and header and tailpipes, plus catalytic converter and heat exchangers is going to enhance the car’s performance is, according to Thomas, ‘very much an experience based thing. We have a decibel meter and we measure the car as standard and then we can do our own work and then measure the car.’ That’s done static and drive-by, rather than rolling road. Increasing bhp is also down to past experience: ‘It’s what we’ve learned over the years; we can work out primary diameters, primary lengths, and cats we know always give an improvement with the modern 200cell, tri-coated T38 platinum, rhodium, palladium Cargraphic exclusive cats, and there’s an immediate gain to be had in fitting those when the factory parts are usually 600-cell, so immediately you’ve increased the flow by three times. If you’re going for maximum power you should consider those, as a lot of the factory headers are particularly restrictive. And there are good gains to be made in replacing the stock headers with our free-flowing headers.’ Another car to benefit in this way is the 991 gen 2 Carrera 3.0 turbo Cabriolet which I sample out in the picturesque Pfalz vineyard countryside, featuring state-of-the-art Cargraphic exhaust and cat sections – a wonderful car on a sunny afternoon. I’m Johnny-look-at-me with the Sport system in full boom.
Cargraphic’s piece-de-resistance though is a 1987 3.2 Carrera, finished in Blood Orange and backdated accurately, aesthetically at least, to a 2.7 RS lookalike, complete with Carrera graphics on the lower flanks. ‘I like the F-programme models,’ says Thomas. ‘I wanted a rust-free American late G50 car for this project, and I got this one three years ago: no accidents, no rust, and since then we’ve completely done it up.’ The revised bodywork consists of carbon front wings, long-bonnet carbon front lid, steel doors, carbon ducktail and carbon rear bumper panel, the whole package weighing in at 1025kg. Suspension includes Bilstein Clubsport dampers with Weltmeister bushes, and retains the 3.2’s torsion-bars. It’s running Michelin TB15 classic racing tyres on 15in replica Fuchs wheels. The 3.2 Carrera-based flat-six is Cargraphic’s RSC 3.2 power kit unit, rated at 283bhp, with top speed calculated at 267kph, and containing Cargraphic’s own modified 964 cams and head porting. It’s running a big air mass flow
There are good gains to be made in replacing the stock headers
sensor and BMC air filter, which forms a very neat arrangement, having been installed by Cargraphic’s in-house technicians. the sparkling exhaust system, the Cargraphic GT exhaust with EURO2 catalytic converters and integrated flaps. There are three different grades of internal baffling for a Cargraphic 911 silencer, producing three different variations of sound, effectively, so you could have what would be considered an OE sound, which is identified as an ET, and then the TÜV box which is a little louder than standard and called an ETR, and then the non-tüv export version which is an ETS. The orange car’s comprehensive pipework includes the ET flap system, fitted with special flaps, pressure-less closed, with the advantage that the car always starts in quiet mode, and that is controlled by a vacuum that will open the flaps so the car can be driven quietly at low revs. Two further configurations can be specified for classic 911s. ‘We have built this system with two versions for the earlier cars,’ says Thomas, ‘with a modified heat exchanger like this system that’s fitted on the orange car, or with our full GT system which has the heat exchangers over the catalytic converter; that works just as well, but you have more variations with the inlet pipe diameter so you can go bigger than the heat exchangers, so it’s more powerful. In fact, we actually sell more GT systems than heat exchangers.’
The orange 3.2 backdate reflects where Thomas sees the trend going in 911 ownership: ‘I see the direction as classic, especially as new cars become more and more tightly regulated. So I want to have a baseline for the next 20 years, and with our facility and our knowledge and what we can produce, I see the direction heading towards classic cars, because the next generation of regulations will make it very difficult for us, especially in this range. OK, there will always be people who want to upgrade their performance or maybe want a performance exhaust sound from their 996s or 997s or 991s, but for classic Porsches the possibilities are limitless. We have so many classic parts in store on the first and second floors of our main building, and this is in addition to our range of exhausts and tuning equipment.’
Cargraphic’s next project cars are a 964 and another 3.2: ‘We are building two cars at present, a 964 WTL America Roadster in white – it’s a factory Turbo-look, one of 326 built, with all our goodies on it, including airlift and the new flap system for the 964. We are also working on a 1987 G-model G50 3.2 Carrera which will have the ’74–’75 3.0 Carrera RS look, which will be finished in Continental Orange.’ Personally, I can’t wait to get back to Landau, where I’ll be sampling the local Dornfelder as well as Cargraphic’s upgraded 911s, though, of course, not simultaneously. PW
The 3.2 backdate reflects where Thomas see the trend going for 911s
A mixed bag in Cargraphic’s workshop although with more classic than modern machinery as befitting of Cargraphic’s move into the classic world as tuning and modifying the current generation becomes more restrictive. There will always be room for exhausts,
Cargraphic chief, Thomas Schnarr, has been at the forefront of Porsche tuning for over 20-years. Right: 2.7 RS replica is based on a Carrera 3.2 and is a wonderful drive
A full trophy cabinet is always a reassuring sign because winning anything always involves being at the top of your game. Middle: Cargraphic systems shout quality. Right: Cargraphic fit and recommend Bilstein
Seems a shame to hide such quality workmanship away. Porsche exhaust systems are complicated things and quality aftermarket systems have to be of exceptional quality
Cargraphic exhausts are marketed and sold from the company’s German base, but made in the UK – Devon, to be precise
Cargrapic diesel Macan makes a V8 burble, thanks to exhaust and hidden speaker trickery, which can be controlled via a phone app! What will they think of next? 991 Cabrio is fully fitted with Cargraphic exhaust and wheels Many thanks to Eurotunnel for the swift transit to Le Continent aboard Le Shuttle eurotunnel.com Cargraphic Thomas Schnarr Gmbh Wieslauterstraße 20, D-76829 Landau, Germany +49 / 63 41 / 968 911-0 info@cargraphic. com cargraphic.com /
It’s not just exhausts. Cargraphic also produce wheels, with split-rims of varying sizes and widths a speciality